Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) refers to blood-clotting in the legs, particularly
associated with long periods of minimal movement. Although DVT has been touted
‘economy class syndrome’, any long-haul traveller should take the risk seriously,
no matter where they are seated.
DVT involves the formation of a blood clot (a thrombus), usually in the
large veins of the legs. If these clots break free, they can then lodge
in the arteries of the lungs, leading to a pulmonary embolism (chest
pain or breathlessness). If the clot is large enough, the condition may
While some people show no symptoms, others can experience a whole
range of symptomatic conditions from a dull ache in the affected area,
to pain and severe swelling and breathing difficulties.
RISK FACTORS FOR DVT
DVT is a complex disease, often with several causes, but the main
factor is immobility or inactivity over a long period, such as long haul
travel. While the risk for the majority of travellers is low, if you’ve had
major surgery, your risk is much higher. Other factors that put you at
increased risk of DVT are age (being 40 years and over), obesity,
pregnancy, smoking and cancer. You should also be careful if you have
varicose veins, a family history of DVT and any loss of body fluids
(especially through dehydration).
AFTER THE FLIGHT
For one month after the flight, keep an eye out for the symptoms of
DVT, and see your doctor immediately if you think you’re experiencing